|Mon Aug 13 2007 15:27:46|
eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?
By: Ina Steiner
One can only image the reaction at eBay headquarters 2 years ago when they read that Ken Walton was writing a book about his misadventures on the auction site. No doubt they figured the attention the Walton/Diebenkorn case had brought to the problems of shill-bidding and art-forgery on eBay would go away once Walton was sentenced to 9 months probation for his misdeeds.
Walton and his cohorts proved to be a major embarrassment to the auction site, and Walton reminded the world again with his 2006 book, "Fake: Forgery, Lies & eBay" and the accompanying interviews he conducted with the press.
The self-admitted eBay shiller and art-forger Ken Walton just won't go away. Last month, he spoke at the 2007 International Appraisal Conference.
The July 18th session was called, "Fakes, Lies and eBay: Confessions of an Art Forger." Here's the description of Walton's talk:
As appraisers, we now use eBay for collectibles that it often took us days to research before. But what about the market information from eBay? Is it reliable? Are the postings accurate? How often are the objects that are offered fake? Kenneth Walton was a successful eBay forger until he sold a painting to which he had added a signature "RD52." He knew buyers would think it was an early Richard Diebenkorn. And they did. The painting sold for $140,000. How did he do it? Who else was complicit? What can we learn as appraisers from his story? A discussion of the book Fake: Forgery, Lies and eBay, will focus on its cautionary messages for professional appraisers, followed by a question-and-answer dialog with attendees.
Recognize the challenges posed by eBay as a vast marketplace of unvested art, antiques and collectibles.
Understand tricks used by eBay sellers to pass off fakes and forgeries.
Learn how to educate clients who shop online.
I got in touch with Jen Lofquist, Public Relations Manager for the American Society of Appraisers, to learn how members received Walton's presentation:
"Approximately 75 personal property appraisers gathered to hear Ken Walton-convicted felon and author of the book Fake: Forgery, Lies & eBay-speak at the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) annual meeting in Los Angeles in July. ASA appraisers are constantly honing their knowledge of the field and that includes learning as much as possible about fraudulent practices. ASA warns consumers to be vigilant when buying artwork and antiques. Although appraisers usually do not authenticate items, they can be helpful in locating someone who does. ASA also suggests that consumers work with an appraiser accredited by a national organization to ensure they truly understand the value of what they are purchasing."
As irksome as this attention to Walton must be for eBay, it's nothing compared to what might be coming: Walton said in June he closed a deal to sell the film rights of his book to an L.A.-based producer/director. A film about the shill-bidding ring would be a bitter pill for eBay execs to swallow, indeed.
Any guesses as to who would play eBay Sheriff Rob Chesnut, CEO Meg Whitman, and Ken Walton himself?